Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Turkeys, Trout Lilies and Other Spring Things

This post is a bit of a ramble covering our adventures in central Ohio nature over the past week. A search for wildflowers and warblers in area metro parks, a visit to a local city park to see if any warblers were passing through and finally the first long kayak paddle of the year. So I hope you enjoy the ride.

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In the spring wildflowers and migrating warblers are usually what comes to mind not turkeys. For me turkeys have always been a fall bird usually associated with a big meal that includes stuffing, gravy, and all the fixins. So a few days ago at Blendon Woods Metro Park it was a bit of a surprise to see a male turkey doing it’s best to convince a female that they should get together.

Turkey (M), Blendon Woods.

A closer look. In breeding plumage the feathers are truly spectacular, (Donna).

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The purpose of the trip to Blendon was to look for warblers. We were successful in spotting a few including a Black-throated Green which without to much effort eluded the camera’s lens. While we did see a few, we soon found ourselves seduced by the many wildflowers that were in bloom.

It won’t be long till the leaves fill in, Blendon Woods Metro Park.

Standing out due to their relative scarceness leaves evoke the feeling of flowers.

Yellow Trout Lilies were doing their best at Blendon Woods.

Another view as sunlight filters through from behind.

 

Wild Geranium, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Black haw viburnum, Blendon Woods.

There were some exceptional large examples of Toadshade Trillium at Blendon Woods.

Flowers aren’t the only thing worth taking a close look at.

Jacobs Ladder, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Buttercup, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

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When not looking at wildflowers or for warblers there were other things  .   .   .

Birds are apparently not the only spring nest builders, Fox Squirrel, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

One of a least two mature albino squirrels seen. How they evade the hawks long enough to reach adulthood is a mystery to me.

Home to small darters, in the spring the small creeks in Blendon Woods flow freely.

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The day following our trip to Blendon Woods we headed to Clear Creek Metro Park for what turned out to be a rather long hike. Spring is especially fascinating at Clear Creek with a number of plants not found elsewhere in Ohio. The number of butterflies seen (Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Commas, Morning Cloaks, etc.) but not photographed, was truly amazing.

Blue Phlox, Clear creek Metro Park.

Foamflower, Clear creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Pussytoes (F), Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Fiddleheads, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Soloman’s Seal, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Bluebells, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Duskywing, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

Violet Wood Sorrel, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Spicebush Swallowtail, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Coltsfoot, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Dogwood, Clear Creek Metro Park

Wild Geranium, Clear Creek Metro Park. (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Violets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Squaw Root, a perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant, native but not endemic to North America, when blooming resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Wikipedia), Clear Creek Metro Park.

Fire Pink, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Closer to home within the city limits of Columbus along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir spring was also in full swing.

Redbuds, Griggs Park.

“Lovebirds”, male and female American Goldfinch, Griggs Park.

Blackberry, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Redwing Blackbird (M), Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Northern Flicker, Griggs Park.

Shooting Star, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Buckeye, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

White-throated Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Honeysuckle, (Native?), Kiwanis Riverway Park

Yellow-throated Warbler singing high in a Sycamore tree, Griggs Park.

Wild Ginger, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In week or so ago I spotted this pair of Blue jays starting work on a nest. They must have given up on that location as no nest was found on this particular day, Griggs park.,

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Out on the reservoir there was also lot’s of activity, much of which eluded the camera’s lens, but some subjects cooperated just long enough. Spotted Sandpipers, turtles, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets seemed to be everywhere. As I have undoubtedly mentioned in the past, shooting from a canoe or kayak has it’s own set of challenges, camera shake and the fact that everything is moving just to name a few, so when one gets a relatively good picture it’s truly cause for celebration. When paddling the kayak certain limitations are excepted so a relatively small light superzoom is usually what is taken. It’s easy to tuck out of the way and if it happens go swimming it’s not the end of the world.

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir.

Very small Red-eared Slider getting ready to attempt a double-backflip with a twist , Griggs Reservoir.

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, Griggs Reservoir.

Great Egret in breeding plumage with a couple of close friends, Griggs Reservoir.

Note color around eyes.

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In the last week not far from our home it seemed that no matter which way we turned there was something wonderful to see. We hope that’s been your experience also. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

 

 

Clifton Gorge Celebrates Spring

A couple of times a year, usually in the spring and fall we get together with friends for a hike from Clifton to Yellow Springs and back. Yellow Springs turns out to be a great place for lunch with a number of excellent small restaurants and delis. The hike wanders through Clifton Gorge Nature PreserveJohn Bryan State Park, and finally Glen Helen Nature Preserve allowing us to enjoy a truly unique Ohio landscape. In the spring the quantity and diversity of wildflowers is truly amazing. The hike usually adds up to about ten miles so it necessitates compromises in the camera equipment we use. No heavy DSLR bird cameras here.  However, should you choose to bring more serious equipment or just not feel up to a long hike, there are many shorter options that still allow one to enjoy the natural beauty.

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Leaving Clifton the hike starts out overlooking a narrow stretch of the Little Miami River.

Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve

In the spring numerous small streams feed the Little Miami.

By no means the narrowest portion of the gorge it does give one an idea of what it is like.

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Continuing to follow the river it wasn’t long before we saw our first trillium.

Large-flowered Trillium with a hint of pink.

A nice group.

They covered the hillside, Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve.

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In the mix there were other trilliums to enjoy.

Toadshade Trillium

Another view, (Donna).

Drooping Trillium. Also known as Bent Trillium.

Drooping Trillium

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There were also “non-flower” things to see.

Dryad’s Saddle

This Redback salamander was crossing the road so we decided to place him in a safer location. This salamander can actually be one of two colors: “redback” or “leadback.” In its redback phase it has a reddish stripe that runs down its back from the base of its head to the tail. Found throughout Ohio, it is most often seen in early spring beneath rocks and logs, especially in floodplains. It is entirely land-dwelling and usually will not go to water even to breed. Ref: ODNR.

Morel Mushroom, (Donna).

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As we made our way downstream the river started to widen.

The Little Miami

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.   .   .  and then pool before becoming a river once again.

Blue Hole

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There was never a place where we couldn’t see a wildflower.

Virginia Bluebells

Bloodroot

Large-flowered Bellwort was everywhere.

A closer look.

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There wasn’t always a bridge when we needed one. Fortunately on this particular day the river level wasn’t too high.

In John Bryant SP.

Green was still mostly restricted to the forest floor, Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

View from the bridge over the falls on Yellow Springs Creek, Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

A stream feeds Yellow Springs Creek.

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Just when you thought you’ve seen all the flowers   .   .   .

Rue Anemone, (Donna)

Squirrel Corn, It’s roots are yellow tubers that somewhat resemble kernals of corn. This fact, along with squirrels digging it up for food, gave rise to the name. (taken from Wildflowers of Ohio by Robert L Henn)

Squirrel Corn, a closer look, (Donna).

Wild Ginger, (Donna). The root stalks have a ginger scent and taste. American settlers boiled the root stalks with sugar to make candy. Not the same as the true Ginger spice which is derived from a tropical plant. (taken from Wildflowers of Ohio -Robert L. Henn

Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William, (Donna).

Wild Geranium was just coming along! Also known as Crane’s Bill. (Donna).

Golden Ragwort, (Donna).

Marsh Marigold, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies, (Donna)

Surrounded by Chickweed the trout lilies peek through, (Donna).

Getting down and dirty.

Early Meadow Rue, (Donna).

Hepatica, (Donna).

Dwarf Larkspur

Dwarf Larkspur

How many different wildflowers can you spot in this photo?

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

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Sometimes we’re left feeling as though life’s magic is slipping away and there are no longer any miracles to celebrate. That’s when we might want to consider taking a walk in the spring woods.

 

Rue Anemone stands as a lone sentinel over the Little Miami.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

Early Spring at O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

March 30th, perhaps it was time to check out  O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve and see what early spring wildflowers might be making their presence known. After all we don’t want to miss anything. Having said that, this time always leaves us feeling a bit impatient as spring always seems to progress so slowly and often heads in the wrong direction.

A Beech Tree adds color to the early spring landscape, (Donna).

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Upon closer inspection we find other color in what is still mostly brown.

Spring Beauties

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Standing out in the stark landscape, a fallen trees creates a shape that fascinates when not looking for small flowers.

Fallen tree.

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Some flowers seen are unfortunately escapees from someone’s yard.

Ground Ivy, (Donna).

With Twin Lakes in the distance, the foreground flower make for a beautiful scene, that is until you realize it’s invasive Lesser Celandine.

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In a vernal pool the frogs were strangely quiet considering the time of year.

Vernal pool.

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We did discover a few native wildflowers. Looking at the still leafless canopy it’s a race against time for early spring ground plants that call the woods home.

Purple Cress.

Violet

Sharp-lobed Hepatica, (Donna).

The small blossoms on a Spice Bush.

Rue Anemone.

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

Hispid Buttercup, (Donna).

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We will continue to mark the season with visits to wooded areas near our home. The Trout Lilies, both yellow and white, should be blooming any day now.

Spring Beauties stand guard over the creek below, waiting for the Trout Lilies.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

Vernal Pools and Spring Wildflowers

The woods at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park  are a very good place to take a long walk. This time of the year, if you love spring wildflowers, it’s a great place. Yesterday, with that in mind, we packed water and a lunch and headed out with the goal of seeing trilliums and perhaps a few spring warblers.

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The park’s spring woods contain many shallow pools that usually last a few weeks and are gone. The aesthetics of these vernal pools is primarily what attracts me but the real magic is that, due to their lack of predatory fish, they are home to a variety insects and other small creatures. The most obvious of these being various species of frogs and toads which use the pools for reproduction. Salamanders may also use them to reproduce. Depending on location fairy shrimp may also be part of the mix.

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Some pools are small.

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Others larger.

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When not being fascinated by the vernal pools it was impossible not to be enchanted by the emerging life of the forest floor most dramatically represented by the wildflowers.

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It was the striking appearance of this Toad Shade Trillium’s leaves that attracted our attention. In a few short days they will be uniformly green.

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Dutchman’s Breeches were everywhere.

Pink Dutchman's Breeches 041415 Battelle Darby   cp1

A rare pink variant. (Donna)

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Wood Anemone

 

 

Cut-leafed Toothwort Close-up good 1 041415 Battelle Darby   cp1

While not quite as common as the Dutchman’s Breaches, we did see a lot of Cutleaf Toothwort. (Donna)

IMG_7739

Cutleaf Toothwort, another look.

 

Yellow Violet 1 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

This Yellow Violet was one of a few we saw. (Donna)

Yellow Sage 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

Beautiful but unusual Yellow Sedge. (Donna)

Yellow Corydalis 1 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

The small flowers of the Yellow Corydalis. (Donna)

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The beauty of Virginia Waterleaf.

 

White Trout Lilly Grp IMG_7214

Large groups of White Trout Lilies were seen.

White Trout Lily Close-up 1 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

This one was ahead of the others. (Donna)

Spring Beauties IMG_7684

Spring Beauties were well represented.

Spring Beauties 2 better 1 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

Some were more pink in color. (Donna)

Spicebush 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

Spicebush, (Donna)

Rue Anemone IMG_7742

Fragile but beautiful Rue Anemone.

Rue Anemone IMG_7202

Rue Anemone, another look.

Purple Cress IMG_7190

Purple Cress

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Spring showcases the beauty and symmetry of young leaves

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Virginia Bluebells that were slightly ahead of the rest.

 

But when your looking for wildflowers you just might see   .   .   .

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Common Water snakes enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.

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While no warblers were seen there were other birds to enjoy.

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Female Eastern Towhee

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The male was close by.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Downy 2 best 1 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

Male Downy Woodpecker. (Donna)

Downy on ground good 2 041415 Battelle Darby cp1

With the female close by. (Donna)

IMG_7737

White-breasted Nuthatch

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The fact that the warblers and white trilliums eluded us has provided good reason for a return visit. Not that one is needed.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Carnivorous Butterfly But No Warblers

During a recent trip to Georgia cooperative weather allowed us to get the canoe in the water and do some exploring on Lake Sidney Lanier. The lake is huge with  large parts heavily developed due to it’s close proximity to Atlanta. However the area we choose to explore by starting from Don Carter State Park is not as developed and as a result has many interesting coves and inlets to explore.  In the last couple of years the region has been blessed with plenty of rain so the lake level has stayed near summer pool. A few years before that the area was suffering from draught conditions and the lake level was down in excess of 10 feet. Not much fun for paddling.

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The idea was to look for wildflowers and warblers. While we were treated to a bald eagle flying overhead, just out of camera range, we didn’t have much success with flowers or warblers. However, we did see butterflies and a rather rare one at that.

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Entering one of Lake Lanier’s many coves.

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The leaves were just starting to come out.

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What’s going on here?

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Soon another smaller butterfly joins the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Duskywings all looking for some valuable nutrients from some type of bird droppings, perhaps from a Great Blue Heron?

Harvester Butterfly 040315 GA trip cp1

My wife moves closer for a better look. It’s a rare Harvester Butterfly! In it’s larval stage it feeds on aphids making it the only carnivorous butterfly in North America.

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We turned away from the butterflies for a moment to notice an Eastern Box Turtle cautiously observing the proceedings.

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Eastern Box Turtle

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Not far from Lake Lanier, in the woods behind the family home, we did discover some new to us wildflowers and a few birds were also seen.

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Young leaves

Purple tipped white violet 040315 GA trip cp1

Purple tipped White Violet, (Donna)

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Creeping Phlox, (new to us)

White flower trio 040415 GA trip cp1 (2)

Rue Anemone, (Donna)

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Star Chickweed, (New to us)

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Lichen and moss

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Turkey tail

White moth brown strips 4 best one 2 040415 GA trip    cp1

Four Spotted Angle Moth, (Donna)

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Wood Thrush, a bit too far away for a good shot.

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Hermit Thrush, also a bit too far away.   .   .

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Back in Ohio, hoping for better luck, we continue our quest for spring warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

It All Seems To Happen At Once

It wasn’t that many days ago that very little seem to be changing. The grayish brown winter landscape in central Ohio was tenacious this year. Now, from one day to the next, the landscape looks markedly different. Now, warblers pass through on their northern migration. Yellow Tiger Swallowtail and Mourning Cloak butterflies seem to defy the cold morning air taking flight long before you would expect. Trees with buds one day magically have leaves the next. Spring wildflowers, such as Dutchman’s Breeches and Toadshade Trillium, are in a race with tree buds in the canopy overhead. The buds will soon be leaves bringing an end to the spring wildflower celebration for another year. Click on images for a better look.

Rue Anemone

Rue Anemone

Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush

Fiddle Head

Fiddle Head

 

Large Flowered Bell Wort

Large Flowered Bell Wort

Blue Bells, Donna

Blue Bells, Donna

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Phlox

Phlox

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

New Leaves

New Leaves

Dutchman's Breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Robin on Nest

Robin on Nest

Toadshade Trillium

Toadshade Trillium

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

Rufous Sided Towhee

Rufous Sided Towhee

Yellow Corydalis, Donna

Yellow Corydalis, Donna

Smooth Solomon's Seal, Donna

Smooth Solomon’s Seal, Donna

Long-spurred Violet, Donna

Long-spurred Violet, Donna

Early Saxifrage, Donna

Early Saxifrage, Donna

Redstart

Redstart

Black & White Warbler

Black & White Warbler

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Yellow Throated Warbler

Yellow Throated Warbler

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

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Thanks for stopping by.

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